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Austin Wranglers game notes

March 22, 2005 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Austin Wranglers News Release


This week’s Austin Wranglers game will be streamed live on AFLNet. AFLNet is a premium feature accessed on the AFL’s official website, AFLNet offers fans the most comprehensive online coverage of the AFL. Members can access Live Broadcast Video Streaming of AFL games, weekly highlights and recaps for each AFL Game, including the Game of the Week and archived games. Watch AFL games, meet the players, and get behind-the-scenes interviews with players and coaches and audio streaming of This Week in the AFL.

Austin Wranglers road coverage will be provided by veteran radio sportscaster Kent Koen calling play-by-play and Austin Wranglers General Manager and former NFL player Glyn Milburn handling the color announcing. Head Coach Skip Foster will analyze Saturday’s game and take phone calls on The Zone 1300 AM with Bucky Godbolt Tuesday night, 7-8 p.m. The player’s perspective can be heard with Aaron Humphrey on “Hump Day” with Bucky and Erin at 6:40 a.m. every Wednesday morning on the Buck on Sports on AM 1300 The Zone.


Week Date Opponent Time/Results
1 Sunday, Jan. 30 PHILADELPHIA SOUL L 35-66
2 Sunday, Feb. 6 @ Tampa Bay Storm L 45-62
3 Friday, Feb 11 LOS ANGELES AVENGERS L 55-64
4 Saturday , Feb. 19 @ Grand Rapids W 73-61
5 Friday, Feb. 25 GEORGIA FORCE L 63-66
6 Friday, March 4 @ Las Vegas W 42-41
7 Sunday, March 13 DALLAS DESPERADOS L 52-28
8 Saturday, March 19 NEW YORK DRAGONS W 57-47
9 Friday March 25 @ Orlando Predators 6:30 p.m.
10 Friday, April 1 NEW ORLEANS VOODOO 7:30 p.m.
11 Friday, April 8 @ Georgia Force 6:30 p.m.
12 Sunday, April 17 TAMPA BAY STORM 12:00 p.m.
13 Friday, April 22 @ Arizona Rattlers 9:00 p.m.
14 Saturday, April 30 @ Columbus Destroyers 6:00 p.m.
15 Saturday, May 7 ORLANDO PREDATORS 7:30 p.m.
16 Saturday, May 14 @ New Orleans Voodoo 7:30 p.m.
17 BYE

All game times and locations are subject to change


The Austin Wranglers will hit the practice field on Monday to prepare for their next home contest against Southern Division rival New Orleans VooDoo.

The Wranglers are scheduled to take-on the VooDoo at the Frank Erwin Center, Friday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m.


Austin, TX—It was a night of many firsts on the season. The first meeting between New York and Austin, the first time the Wranglers game on a Saturday night, and their first home win as they hung on to slay the Dragons 54-47. Wrangler QB John Fitzgerald had a phenomenal game after off-game last week versus the rival Desperadoes. He finished 30-39 with 348 yards and 6 touchdowns. Austin led much of the way after Wrangler DS Kelvin Hunter made an impressive one handed interception that swung the momentum in Austin’s favor. After exchanging scores for much of the way, an errant kickoff late in the fourth quarter allowed the Dragons to even the score at 47. Fitzgerald guided his Wranglers back down the field and connected with FB/LB Henry Bryant for the final go ahead score. Austin earned a much needed win and improved to 3-5 on the season. New York lost for only the second time on the year and looks to bounce back next week as they travel to Columbus. Austin travels to Orlando to take on the Predators next Friday.


Austin, TX—Revenge never tasted so sweet. After a heartbreaking loss the day before Valentine’s Day to the Austin Wranglers by one point, the Orlando Predators won 43-26 in convincing fashion and in front of a record crowd of 13,831 at the Frank Erwin Center. The win spoiled the Wranglers final home game and leaves them in need of a win in order to reach the playoffs. Offensive player of the game and Predator quarterback Joe Hamilton ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, as the sensational rookie led his team to a must-win. Even losing the turnover battle did not matter, as the Predators stifling front four had four sacks on the day and were continuously nagging Wrangler quarterback John Kaleo. During the middle of the second quarter, Hamilton found WR/DB Bret Cooper for a two score advantage. They did not look back the rest of the way. The scoring was not excessive as each defense played well, however early in the fourth quarter the game was put out of reach. WR/DB Charlie Davidson was rocked on a kickoff return and the ball squirted in the end zone resulting in a safety. Orlando regained possession and scored once again, solidifying the win and improving its playoff-chances.

Mid-Season Review
The Wranglers have managed to improve on key team stats as the season has progressed.
In most cases, it has led to the team’s winning ways of the last month.

Team Stats 1st Four Games Last Four Games

Red Zone 65% 81%
3rd-Down Conversions 36.7% 63%
Scoring Offense 51 47.75
Total Offense 304.5 291.25
Take-aways 11 7
Give-aways 12 8
Possession Avg. 30:40 32:34

Wranglers Defensive Stops

Stops on 4th down 3
Stops in Red Zone 1
Interceptions 10
Fumble Recoveries 7
Field Goals 8
End of Half Stops 5
Safeties 0
Total Stops on the Season 41
Average Stops/Game 5.1

2005 Stat Comparison
Games Played 8 8
First Downs 174 155
Total Yards Gained 2,381 2,005
Average/Game 297.6 250.6
Net Rushing Yards 156 262
Average/Game 19.5 32.8
Net Passing Yards 2,225 1,743
Average/Game 278.1 217.9
Kickoff Returns 39 37
Average Yards/Return 15.3 14.6
Time of Possession 31:41 30:14
Touchdowns 56 54
Points Scored 394 375

ADT Defensive US Army
Offensive Player of the Game Player of the Game Ironman of the Game

Wranglers vs. Philadelphia OS Steve Smith (PHI) WR/DB Arkee Thompson (PHI) WR/LB Sean Scott (PHI)
Wranglers @ Tampa Bay WR/DB Clif Dell (TBS) DS Jonathan Ordway (TBS) WR/LB Lawrence Samuels (TBS)
Wranglers vs. Los Angeles QB John Kaleo (LAA) FB/LB Michael Spicer (LAA) K Remy Hamilton (LAA)
Wranglers @ Grand Rapids QB Michael Bishop (GRR) DS Cedric Walker (AUS) WR/DB Kevin Nickerson (AUS)
Wranglers vs. Georgia QB Matt Nagy (GEO) DS Kevin Gaines (GEO) OS Troy Bergeron (GEO)
Wranglers @ Las Vegas WR/LB Darrin Chiaverini (AUS) DS Cedric Walker (AUS) FB/LB Dane Krager (AUS)
Wranglers vs. Dallas WR/DB Bobby Sippio (DAL) DS Jermaine Jones (DAL) WR/DB Will Pettis (DAL)
Wranglers vs. New York QB John Fitzgerald (AUS) DS Kelvin Hunter (AUS) WR/LB Darrin Chiaverini (AUS)

Big Plays
Wranglers vs. Philadelphia
Philadelphia’s 2nd Half Stand
Despite a competitive 1st half, the Wranglers were held to only one TD in each 3rd and 4th quarter. The Soul’s offense went on to take a commanding lead as they scored 21 points in the 4th quarter.

Wranglers @ Tampa Bay
Pesavento’s 1st Quarter Injury
After throwing an incomplete pass, Pesavento was hit by Storm LB Nyle Wiren, causing Pesavento to leave the game.
Fitzgerald’s Interception
On the Wranglers first drive of the 2nd quarter, QB John Fitzgerald was intercepted by Storm DS Jonathan Ordway. The interception was returned 49 yards for a Storm touchdown.

Wranglers vs. Los Angeles
Special Teams End Zone Bounce
Following a Storm kickoff to the Wranglers end zone, the ball took an unfortunate bounce off of the uprights and landed on the two-yard line and landed in the arms of Bernard Riley as he ran it in for a Storm TD.

Wranglers @ Grand Rapids
Walker’s End Zone Interception
Cedric Walkers 3rd quarter end zone interception helped to build momentum for the Wranglers going into the 4th quarter. The Wranglers went on to out score the Rampage 25-20 in the 4th to earn their first win of the season.

Wranglers vs. Georgia
Gooch’s Interception
After an impressive 32 yard return by Georgia, Wranglers LB, Ira Gooch stepped in and intercepted Matt Nagy’s pass on the Austin 4- yard line. Gooch would return the ball 21 yards to set up a Wranglers touchdown to put them on top 56-48 in the 4th quarter.
Nelson Garner Field Goal
Georgia Kicker Nelson Garner capped off the Force win with a 49-yard field goal with two seconds left in the game.

Wranglers @ Las Vegas
Mark Lewis’ Failed Extra Point
Despite a Las Vegas TD that put them up 41-36 late in the 4th quarter, Lewis’ extra point failed and, leaving the door wide open for the Wranglers.
Fitzgerald’s game winning TD
The Wranglers capitalized on a missed Gladiator field goal to take the lead 42-41 with no time left on the game clock.

Wranglers vs. Dallas
Nickerson’s Interception
Fitzgerald had a pass picked off on Austin’s first drive of the game. On Dallas’ third play of the ensuing drive, Nickerson intercepted Clint Stoerner’s pass which set up a Wranglers touchdown to bring the Wranglers within one.
Humphrey’s Defense
He stopped a second quarter touchdown by tackling Ricki Simpkins after a 27 yard gain. In the fourth quarter, he Sacked Stoerner on 3-24 to push them back to 4-30, and later that quarter, he forced a John Pettijohn fumble that Charlie Davidson returned 12 yards.

Wranglers vs. New York
Chiaverini’s Interception
Following Dane Krager’s sack on New York’s QB midway through the 2nd quarter, WR/LB Darrin Chiaverini intercepted Aaron Garcia’s pass on the Austin 13 yard line and returned it for 16 yards. This set up an impressive drive that resulted in a Wrangler TD.
Late 4th Quarter Drive
With the score tied at 47, Fitzgerald led the offense down the field and connected with Henry Bryant for a TD with 2:17 left to play.

A Closer Look

Leading Scorers
Kevin Nickerson Tied for 13th in league
1 rush, 14 rec; 15 TDs
Darrin Chiaverini Tied for 23rd in league
10 rec; 10 TDs
Henry Bryant Tied for 31st in league
6 rush, 2 rec; 8 TDs
Passer Rating
John Fitzgerald 5h in the league, 114.7

Touchdown Percentage Rating
John Fitzgerald 10th in the league, 14.7%

Wranglers are 2nd in the league with 18 total take-aways and several players are ranked in the AFL for their defensive performances.

Interceptions Made
Kelvin Hunter – tied for 5th; 3 for 20 yards
Darrin Chiaverini – tied for 14th; 2 for 25 yards
Charlie Davidson – tied for 33rd; 1 for 0 yards
Dane Krager – tied for 33rd; 1 for 0 yards
Ira Gooch – tied for 33rd; 1 for 21 yards
Kevin Nickerson – tied for 33rd; 1 for 9 yards
Cedric Walker – tied for 33rd; 1 for 0 yards

Fumble Recoveries
Angel Rubio – tied for 6th; 2
Tom Briggs – tied for 24th; 1
Darrin Chiaverini– tied for 24th; 1
Charlie Davidson – tied for 24th; 1
Tony Dodson – tied for 24th; 1
Ira Gooch – tied for 24th; 1
Bryan Henderson – tied for 24th; 1
Kelvin Hunter– tied for 24th; 1
Dane Krager – tied for 24th; 1
Kevin Nickerson – tied for 24th; 1
Ramon Richardson – tied for 24th; 1
Cedric Walker– tied for 24th; 1

Forced Fumbles
Aaron Humphrey – tied for 1st; 3

*Denotes Rookie

· 40.0 total sacks
· 179 total tackles

· 106 receptions
· 1101 receiving yards

· 433 receptions
· 96 receiving touchdowns
· 7,227 all-purpose yards
· 21 interceptions
· 330 tackles

· 45 games played
· 8,805 yards passing
· 147 passing touchdowns
· 748 pass completions

· 24 receiving touchdowns
· 1,466 receiving yards
· 99 receptions
· 2,329 all-purpose yards

· 5.0 total sacks
· 7.0 total tackles for loss
· 7 forced fumbles
· 35.5 total tackles

· 143 tackles
· 5 interceptions
· 28 breakups

· 14 receiving touchdowns
· 548 receiving yards
· 40 receptions

· 581 total tackles
· 495 solo tackles
· 84 breakups



WR/LB Darrin Chiaverini
In his second year in the AFL, Chiaverini has been a great contributor to both sides of the Wranglers game. He ranks seventh in the league in receptions with 59 and is tied for 14th in interceptions with 2 for 25 yards. Against New York, he caught 11 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 1.5 tackles and a momentum changing interception off the net in the endzone to help propel the Wranglers to a win.

QB John Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald had his third 300+-yard passing game as he completed 30 of 39 passes for 348 yards and six touchdowns against New York. He ranks fourth in the league in completions (165), fifth among passers with a rating of 114.7 and is tied for fourth in touchdowns (37). On the season, he is averaging 280.9 yards a game and holds the AFL single game record for longest pass with 49 yards.

DS Kelvin Hunter
In his fourth AFL season, Hunter has made big plays for the Wranglers defense in 2005. He is tied for fifth in the league in interceptions with three for 20 yards and 10th in passes defensed with seven. He ranks second on the team in tackles with 30, 26 solo, has a fumble recovery for a six-yard return, and one tackle for a loss of four yards. Last week against New York, he wrapped up three tackles and hauled in a one-handed interception as he was a big motivator for the Wranglers in the win against the Dragons.


In his third season with the Predators and in the AFL, he is a terror to offensive lines and quarterbacks. Prior to this season, Burt recorded 16 career sacks. In the first half of 2005 he has accumulated five sacks for a loss of 21 yards, which ties him for second place in the league in sacks and third in combined tackles for loss. Last week against the VooDoo, he obtained three total tackles, two sacks for a loss of six yards and a forced fumble.

WR/LB Cory Fleming
This ninth year veteran and 2004’s US Army Ironman of the Year has been a big contributor to the Orlando offense. He leads the Predators in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns with 38 catches for 403 yards and 13 touchdowns. Last week in their game against New Orleans, he caught six passes for 83 yards and three touchdowns. He is tied for 15th in the league in scoring (78 points) and is in the top 30 in the league in receptions and receiving yards.

QB Joe Hamilton
This young and developing quarterback is in his second AFL season out of Georgia Tech. On the season, he has completed 153 of 252 passes for 1,816 yards and 34 touchdowns. He had an impressive performance last week against New Orleans as he went 11 of 20 for 169 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed five times for nine yards and a touchdown.


Head Coach Skip Foster is entering his second AFL season with the Austin Wranglers. Foster, deemed the second most winning coach in arenafootball2 history with a 44-10 record including an ArenaCup Championship, will again act as the Wranglers offensive coordinator in addition to carrying the head coaching duties. After finishing the team’s 2004 debut season with a commendable 8-8 record, Foster has built a 2005 team that will take the Wranglers to an ArenaBowl championship. In the team’s inaugural season performance, Foster’s offense scored 104 touchdowns, an average of 47.8 points per game, led the AFL in total offense for five weeks and remained one of the League’s top three total offenses for a total of fifteen weeks in 2004. The Wranglers offensive unit gained more than 300 yards in five different performances and had two 200+ receiving-yard games for AFL All-Rookie Tacoma Fontaine. Quarterback John Kaleo posted career-highs in attempts with 565 and completions with 352. Kaleo passed for more than 4,000 yards for his second consecutive season bringing his career total to 26,077 passing yards. Fontaine and veteran WR/DB Charlie Davidson led the Wranglers receivers combining for 1,959 of the teams 4,045 yards receiving and 37 of the team’s 82 receiving touchdowns. Prior to joining the Wranglers, Foster served as the head coach for the 2003 af2-Champion Tulsa Talons. Foster led the team to a 13-3 regular season record while accumulating 3,995 yards in total offense, 3,679 yards passing and 316 yards rushing. This offensive effort also concluded with Tulsa outscoring their opponents 823-690 in regular season play. The Talons totaled 745 yards in offense and outscored their postseason opponents 179-130 on their way to winning the 2003 ArenaCup. Foster made history in Tulsa as he became the only af2 coach to go undefeated at home over three consecutive regular seasons. Foster compiled a record of 82-39-2 at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas before moving to arena football. Foster coached the Red Ravens to six conference championships during his 12 seasons as the head coach. In 1990, Foster led Coffeyville to a national championship and an undefeated season. He was selected as Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Coach of the Year in both 1990 and 1991. After serving as an assistant to his father, Dick Foster, for four seasons at Coffeyville, Skip took over the head coaching duties where Dick won a national championship in 1983. They are the only father/son pair in the National Junior College Athletic Association to win a national championship at the same school. Skip played football for his father from 1979-1980 at Coffeyville.


One of the most successful players and head coaches in AFL history, Jay Gruden returns for his second stint with the Orlando Predators as Head Coach and Director of Football Operations. Gruden returned to the post last summer, after the tragic death of Fran Papasedero in a June 19, 2003 automobile accident. He began his AFL career in 1991 as quarterback of the Tampa Bay Storm. Over the next six seasons, Gruden led the Storm to a 9-1 record and MVP honors. Gruden left the playing field after the 1996 season, signing a three-year contract to become offensive coordinator of the expansion Nashville Kats. During his first season in that capacity, Nashville won an expansion-record 10 games. Gruden was credited with developing Andy Kelly into one of the top quarterbacks in the League. With the untimely death of his close friend Papasedero, Gruden reluctantly agreed to assume the head coaching duties of the Predators three weeks after the season ended. For his professional career, Gruden has posted some incredible numbers. As a head coach, he owns a 43-23 record and has won a pair of titles. He ranks in the top 10 in career passing stats with more than 20,000 yards, close to 400 touchdowns and four AFL titles. A two-time All-Arena selection and onetime League MVP, Gruden won 15 of 19 post-season starts. He was 84-25 (.770) as a starting quarterback and 10-5 (.667) as an assistant coach. Counting his 43-23 (.651) record as the head coach with the Predators, Gruden takes an all-time AFL record of 137-53 (.721) into the 2004 season. He was the first person in AFL history to win an AFL title as both a player and a coach. During the 2002-03 season, Gruden became the only active player to was a member of the AFL Hall of Fame.


A Week of Firsts
On their first drive of the game, the Wranglers offense managed to take the lead from the New York Dragons in their Week Eight game and put up a strong defensive front to keep New York from getting ahead for the rest of the game, their first maintained lead of the season. For the first time this season, the Wranglers scored on every possession of the game and managed to stop New York with two interceptions, and a missed field goal. The Wranglers 10-point halftime lead was their biggest this season as they rolled on to a 57-47 win.

Sharing the Wealth
On offense, QB John Fitzgerald spread out the scoring as four different players accounted for seven touchdowns scored, completing 77 percent of his passes (30-39) for 348 yards. Three Wranglers players each had two touchdowns; Wranglers No.3 scorer FB/LB Henry Bryant ran for one touchdown and caught another, WR/LB Darrin Chiaverini had 11 receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns, OS Tacoma Fontaine posted his best game this season with seven catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.

Finding the Endzone
The Wranglers leading scorers are also the team’s biggest producers in rushing and receiving. WR/DB Kevin Nickerson (15), WR/LB Darrin Chiaverini (10), and FB/LB Henry Bryant (8) account for 57 percent of the Wranglers total touchdowns (56). In addition to combining for 152 points, Chiaverini (59, 527 yards) and Nickerson (40, 581 yards) also lead the Wranglers in receptions on the season. With six rushing touchdowns (two receiving), Bryant leads the Wranglers in rushing with 52 yards on 26 attempts this season.

Quarterback Challenge
In his six starts for the Wranglers this season, QB John Fitzgerald has completed 65.7 percent of his passes for 1,996 yards and 37 touchdowns for the League’s fifth-ranked passer rating, 114.7. In his second year in the League, Orlando QB Joe Hamilton has shown steady improvement at quarterback, but is still looking to find consistency this season. Hamilton is ranked 17th in the League in passer rating, but has been able to come through for the Predators leading them to a 5-3 record this season. Hamilton threw for six touchdowns in Week Eight accumulating 169 yards. The quarterback’s touchdown percentage was helped by the Predators offense and special teams who enabled Orlando’s offense to start its drive inside their opponent’s 15-yard line on seven of the team’s 12 offensive drives.

Still Taking it Away
The Wranglers defense and special teams have been highly effective in generating turnovers. In Week Eight, the Wranglers offense picked off two Aaron Garcia passes to bring their total interceptions on the season to 10. In addition, the Wranglers defense has picked up eight of their opponents’ fumbles for the second-most take-aways in the AFL. The Wranglers offense was able to convert off both Garcia interceptions for two touchdowns.

All Eyes on the Line
The competition between the Wranglers and Orlando will be fierce on the line. Orlando OL/DL EJ Burt is tied for second in the AFL in sacks (5.0) and is tied for first in the AFL in forced fumbles with Wranglers OL/DL Aaron Humphrey with three on the season. The aggressive line play on the defensive side of the ball of both teams will have a large impact on the game’s outcome. So far this season, the Wranglers defensive line has been successful hurrying the quarterback and has made 6.0 sacks. On offense, the unit has only allowed 3.0 sacks on a Wranglers quarterback. The Predators defensive line has picked up 11.0 sacks on the season; however, on the other side of the ball, they have allowed QB Joe Hamilton to get sacked 14.0 times.

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